CN wants feds to impose rules on grain companies

Railway says a lack of co-ordination is to blame for inadequate service

Canadian National Railway fired back at government and grain companies March 31, suggesting that all partners in the supply chain, and not just railways, must be held accountable for their performance.

CN officials said in a news release that the federal government has imposed minimum weekly volume targets on railway companies but has yet to regulate grain elevator companies to ensure that more grain is moved through the most efficient rail corridors. 

“CN can only meet its commitment if all other key players in the supply chain are equally held to account for their performance,” said president Claude Mongeau.

“One of the biggest root causes of the challenge we face is a lack of co-ordination across the supply chain and growing pains from new grain marketing strategies following the change in role of the Canadian Wheat Board,” he said. 

“The faster we can ramp up tonnage, the quicker we will be able to mitigate the effects of the grain backlog for all Canadian farmers.”

CN’s news release is perhaps the company’s strongest response to date to federally imposed grain targets that were imposed in early March.

The company also sharpened the rhetoric aimed at grain shippers, suggesting elevator companies should stop complaining to government about inadequate rail service and step up their performance to help move a giant crop to market.


In particular, CN took issue with the Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) for suggesting that railways want to move too many car loads of grain to the West Coast and Thunder Bay.

“The WGEA has complained all winter about having too many vessels waiting to be loaded on the West Coast,” the CN news release said.

“Having wrongly singled out railways and unrealistically called for a near-doubling of rail car capacity since last fall, it is now time for grain elevators companies to step up to the capacity they claim to have, and do so in the corridors that will benefit Canadian farmers the most.” 

The company says it continues to make progress in reaching a government imposed target requiring it to move 500,000 tonnes of western Canadian grain per week.

CN said the railway spotted more than 5,100 hopper cars to country grain elevators in the week ending March 30.

“Unfounded railway bashing by grain stakeholders and the government’s ill-advised legislation to unfairly punish the rail industry are unfortunately about to set Canada’s grain handling system backward,” Mongeau said.